The 14th West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Meeting

Downtown Seattle viewed from the West Seattle Bridge. Photo Credit: SDOT.

Watch the meeting using this link. 


Summary 

  • The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force (CTF) met last week to discuss the decision to repair the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge, learn about current and future bridge repair efforts, and discuss ongoing traffic mitigation efforts throughout the communities impacted by the bridge closure. 
  • Last month, Mayor Durkan announced the decision to repair the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge, and CTF members have been engaging with the community. They shared what they heard – mostly, a sense of relief – and how SDOT can continue to support and engage communities in the process. 
  • Crews are continuing stabilization measures and preparing for Phase II repair work. 
  • To allow similar levels of travel across the Duwamish to those seen before the closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge and reduce the impact of environmental injustice in the Duwamish Valley, we are working hard to implement our Reconnect West Seattle (RWS) projects and plan more in the coming year. 
  • Our next CTF meeting will take place in January. We will post a link to watch that meetings live in our Weekly Update: West Seattle High-Rise Bridge blog the Monday prior to the meeting. 

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force (CTF) met this week to discuss the decision to repair the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge, learn about current and future bridge repair efforts, and discuss ongoing traffic mitigation efforts throughout the communities impacted by the bridge closure.  

All in all, here is what we are doing now and in the future to support communities affected by the closure and reopen the High-Rise Bridge as safely and efficiently as we can. 

  • Ongoing 
    • Deliver frequent updates to the community and maintain project transparency  
    • Identify current and future funding sources for repair and replacement 
  • Now to 2022 
    • Implement Reconnect West Seattle projects and focus on managing detour traffic 
    • Explore strategies to increase redundancy of travel options to/from West Seattle  
  • 2021-2022 
    • Repair the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge 
    • Strengthen the Low Bridge 
    • Implement Reconnect West Seattle Mobility Action Plan to provide, advertise and incentivize alternative travel options 
    • Evaluate alternatives for future replacement 

Over the past few weeks since Mayor Durkan announced the decision to repair the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge, CTF members have been engaging with the community. They shared what they heard – mostly, a sense of relief – and how SDOT can continue to support and engage communities in the process. 

Across sectors, including the maritime industry and small businesses in West Seattle, CTF members expressed “absolute relief” that a decision was made, and that the bridge can reopen in 2022.  

We heard that timing is key. The community is interested in exactly when the bridge will reopen in 2022, and how they will manage the impacts of the closure over the next two years, both during and – hopefully – post-COVID. Realistic and meaningful traffic mitigation efforts are absolutely imperative, and transit must be a vibrant part of the solution, they said. To reach our mode-share goals that include many people working from home, reliable and affordable internet access will be paramount and the CTF asked SDOT to work with other departments and agencies to drive that process. 

The CTF also suggested that SDOT hold monthly listening sessions for the community to express their thoughts and learn more. This is in addition to our weekly blogs and emails; briefings and work with individual communities to plan safety and speed reduction projects; partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods to engage non-English-speaking communities; live-streamed CTF meetings; and more. They said this will help people feel like they have a direct line of communication – a true feedback loop – with SDOT. We agree wholeheartedly that ongoing community engagement is of the utmost importance and are looking into this suggestion! 

Crews are continuing stabilization measures and preparing for Phase II repair work.  

Crews stand with SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe on the work platforms suspended under the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge.
Crews stand with SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe on the work platforms suspended under the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge in a recent visit. Photo Credit: SDOT.

Repairs To-Date: 

We recently installed the new (and final) round of carbon fiber wrapping. Carbon fiber wrapping helps support the now stable and strengthened bridge. This is the last step in Phase I of stabilization, and once it’s done, we will lower work platforms. 

The repairs we have installed thus far are completed and are performing well, and we will continue to monitor how the repairs are working through changes in outside temperature. As we do this, we will complete a study to model how likely other parts of the bridge are to need future repairs before the High-Rise Bridge is eventually replaced. 

Upcoming Repairs: 

The repairs that will  ultimately allow us to reopen the bridge in 2022 include additional post-tensioning and carbon-fiber wrapping on the center bridge span, as well as the two “tail spans” on either side of the center span. We’ll install additional instrumentation to effectively monitor the overall health of the bridge and the new strengthening system. We’re also working on the design and permitting processes, as well as the contractor procurement process, for the repair now.  

To allow similar levels of travel across the Duwamish to those seen before the closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge and reduce the impact of environmental injustice in the Duwamish Valley, we are working hard to implement our Reconnect West Seattle (RWS) projects and plan more in the coming year.  

RWS Implementation Plan & Traffic Mitigation 

Within our RWS Implementation Plan, we identified 55 projects for 2020-2021 to mitigate traffic and enhance safety in communities impacted by the closure. Here’s what we’ve done to-date: 

  • We’ve launched a new tool so you can track the status of each project! Our live project dashboard shows all projects and if you hover over the project location, you’ll see what’s happening and what to expect. 
  • Since Spring 2020, we completed over 185 traffic signal, paving and other improvements in the communities affected by the closure. This includes speed radar signs, a protected bike lane on East Marginal Way, and more. 
  • This fall, we started our Home Zone outreach and provided draft proposals to the communities of Georgetown, South Park, and Highland Park. We’re getting their input on 2021 traffic calming improvements. 
  • We’re also continuing our work on West Marginal Way, which includes an interim signal at the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center. Over the next few months, we’ll engage with the community through targeted online surveys and direct contact with West Marginal Way neighbors and businesses, and hold community meetings and briefings as requested.  

The Mobility Action Plan 

Our mode-share goals are within reach. To help people make changes to their commute to the extent they are able, we are considering investments in a variety of changes, which require partnerships with other agencies. These include to transit service hours, water taxi feeder service, employer resources and partnerships, micromobility (like bikes and scooter share) to help people cover the first/last miles between their homes and transit options, and more. 

Low Bridge Access Policy and Automated Enforcement 

As we continue to prioritize access to the Low Bridge for emergency vehicles, heavy freight, transit (including vanpool, shuttles and school buses), other approved users, we are moving to from our existing placard access system to an automated enforcement system.  

We will continue to monitor Low Bridge traffic and access to ensure we are maximizing opportunities for people to use the Low Bridge at specific times of the day while maintaining safe and fast routes for emergency vehicles. 

Our next CTF meeting will take place in January. We will post a link to watch that meeting live in our Weekly Update: West Seattle Bridge blog the Monday prior to the meeting. 

Any questions? Email us: westseattlebridge@seattle.gov.